Core WaveLab - Working With Audio

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Dan continues his look at WaveLab with a basic but useful look into the common functions of WaveLab for manipulating audio files with it's included dynamic effects and DirectX and VST plugins.

Many of the actions in WaveLab will come very easily to anyone that has a basic understanding of Windows applications and how they work. Cut, copy and paste are used for the same reasons as any Windows app and the same shortcut keys exist for doing it, Cut is 'ctrl + x', copy is 'ctrl + v' and paste is 'ctrl + v'.

The most basic action to learn before working with any files in WaveLab is selecting sections of the .wav file in the track view. I am writing this assuming you are working with a 16-bit, 44.1kHz stereo .wav file. To select a section of audio, click and hold you mouse button at one end of your desired selection, then, while holding the mouse button, drag the selection to the other end of your desired selection. At this point your selection turns dark, and, any command given will be applied to that selection.

On the top menu bar of WaveLab, like any Windows app, has the 'edit' menu this menu has options that include the typical cut, copy and paste commands. Cut removes the selected audio and moves it to the Windows clipboard, copy doesn't remove the audio, but it moves a copy to the clipboard, and paste will take whatever is in the clipboard and place a copy where ever you select to.

Also in the menu bar is a 'Level' and a 'Process' menu. The level menu has most of the dynamic effects such as normalizing, changing gain, fade options, phasing, etc. The process menu has options to apply EQ, chorus, time stretching, converting sample rates , reversing the audio (to create the infamous 'backward masking' effect) and harmonization. All of the options in these menu are executed while having a chunk of audio selected in the track view, and the chosen action is applied only to the selected section.

In addition to the mouse selection, the edit menu has an option to select the whole file. This is preferable when you are doing a final normalization on your music. This will take the entire song, find the highest level, move it up to 0db and move the rest of the song up proportionally, keeping the overall dynamics in tact.

The master window is the next place to process your audio. This window has 6 'inserts' for you to open up effects to apply to your music. Any plugin, VST or DirectX, that is registered on your PC will show up in the master list of available plugins when you click on the little arrow next to any of the six inserts. Effects opened from this window are applied to the whole song without regards to any highlighted audio in your track view. When you get all the effects set to your liking for your song, click the 'apply' button on the master panel to permanently embed the effects into your .wav file.

When doing that, it is wise to save the effected file as a different file name just in case you decide that you want to change it further down the line. As you add, remove and change the parameters of effects, keep in mind that each effect has a 'bypass' option so you can turn the effect on and off to hear the changes that it makes, and, the master window has a global bypass with which to turn all the effects on and off at once. Each effect can also be run solo as well.

When opening the effects list, they categorize themselves in three ways (generally) DirectX and VST plugins have sub categories that appear toward the top of the menu and below that is a list of the effects that come with WaveLab, plus some other Steinberg plugins install there to make themselves easily available. Many of the included plugins are quit useful, but not very intuitive, they all have the same look and style, you just need to scroll through the available parameters to edit them. Most add-on Steinberg plugins and third party plugins are much more attractive and easier to understand and use. But, they are not needed if you take the time to get to know the included effects.

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